Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MARVELOUS MOREL MUSHROOMS

There isn't any food I love more than morel mushrooms. Unfortunately, morel season is brief—just a few weeks. In recent years, the crop here has been rather lackluster due to cold, clammy springs but I'm hoping this year's unseasonably warm weather brings a bumper crop of them. In fact, they're popping up a whole month earlier than usual! The little greys usually appear first, followed by the larger golden ones. My husband and his dad love hunting these Midwestern delicacies, and the hunt is on. When you hunt them, it is important that you not pull them out by their roots but cut them near their base to encourage their spores to spread.


Morels are a hot commodity around here, selling for anywhere from $30-$60 a pound, depending on the year. So those who are lucky enough to find them consider them a real treat. My mom can remember her dad bringing back paper grocery bags full of them when she was kid. They would feast on them for a week. I feel very fortunate that my husband and his dad like to hunt them because it is no easy task. Usual hunting grounds don't necessarily produce any the following year and morels are very difficult to spot. And you do have to be careful about picking the right ones as there is a false morel that is poisonous. Plus, there are many psychedelic mushrooms out there. With my luck, I'd probably pick the one of the psychedelic ones!


Preparing these edible delights is a breeze. First, I halve them. Then, they must be soaked in salt water to kill any of the little bugs that tag along. Their spongy interiors can harbor quite a few little bugs.


After they've soaked the appropriate amount of time, I simply dip them in a beaten egg mixture and coat them in seasoned breadcrumbs. My mom prefers to dip them in coarsely crushed crackers, which is how we had them when I was growing up. That is also very tasty, but I prefer breadcrumbs for ease. Most morel lovers I know like to saute them in butter and that's what my family has always done (no one said these were good for your waistline!). Whatever you do, don't use shortening/Crisco! One year long ago, my dear husband tried to surprise me by making these for lunch and he used Crisco. It was very thoughtful of him but unfortunately, they were inedible. Henceforth, I have been the one to prepare them, which is just as well since my husband and the kitchen don't really mix.


I saute them until they are nicely browned. It doesn't take long, so I don't step away from the stovetop. And here they are—a plateful of golden goodness! I'm usually a very slow eater (ask my friends and they'll tell you I am always the last one to finish eating when we're out) but I must admit I can clear a plate of these in about five minutes. I guess it's a good thing they're only around for a couple weeks!


Although they are somewhat crispy on the outside, their interior is very tender. They have a flavor like nothing else. I can't begin to describe it. It's not your typical mushroom flavor.


Even my cat Teddy can't resist these woodland wonders. Look at him go for it! Oh, to be a cat in our household! Isn't he spoiled?!

9 comments:

  1. It's funny...my DH is from North Dakota and thought we were all nuts for going "mushroom hunting"! Now he's right out there with everyone else. We haven't found any yet this year.

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  2. OH, yum, yum. My mouth started watering just looking at the pictures..I don't like to hunt them, I just like to eat them, sure hope someone brings me a mess!!!

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  3. I hear you! I was never good at finding them. My hubby could always walk behind me and find all the ones I overlooked. Darned
    little things............but sooooo worth the energy it takes finding them.

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  4. We love morel mushrooms also here in NW Arkansas. Pick them every year and my boys love to hunt them as much as eating them. Instead of bread crumbs I use the egg, milk mixture then dipping them in corn meal seasoned with Cavendar's greek seasoning. Then brown them in just a touch of oil. Not much. YUMMY. Love to see others enjoying this tasty treat.

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  5. Glad you have experts seeking out your morels then if the other options are psychedelia or sickness!

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  6. I am having some tonite. I am so excited, it has been years since I had them Last. Happy Easter. Richard from My Old Historic House.

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  7. Oh I wish I was in your kitchen! Makes my mouth water. There's nothing in the world like a good grey sponge! I haven't been hunting in years but this just might inspire me to put on my hiking boots and get out there.

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  8. Kimber-I love reading your blogs-so fun and interesting to read. I love morels however usually only get them when our friend Kyle shares which is a rare thing as he keeps them all for himself. Oh well like you said they aren't exactly good for the waistline. Have a great Easter weekend. Hugs, Mary A.

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